In order to do a PBL in the classroom you start by breaking up the learning into chunks. One of the important tasks is to attack the vocabulary that will be needed to understand the topic in the reading or research. As a facilitator you have to plan what the students need to be successful and be ready to help those who will need more assistance. Modeling to students is the best way for them to learn how to think or research for learning. Instead of just showing the students, walk them through your thinking process so they can adopt it and use it for future references. Another tactic is to tap into their knowledge and to use what they know. Allow time for talk-n-share of some sort so students have time to process and connect to the new information. As students try to formulate their words they will be processing what they know with what they are trying to figure out. They are bringing together the past with the new information they are learning. By using graphing organizer students will be able organize their thoughts with visual representation. I believe one this is preparing the students for PBL in our classrooms. When students are prepared there is less ambiguity and the behavior of the students is better maintained. Ertmer, in her article Jumping the PBL Implementation Hurdle, states that “teachers must support students as they learn how to establish group goals, divide up project responsibilities, mange deadlines, and address problems related to group dynamics.” When a teacher has students understanding that they need to take responsibility and fulfill their role in the group it makes their project easier to address the issue and easier to solve the problem. Ertmer suggests to start with a “mini” PBL units to train students how to work in groups and how to tackle a problem by researching answers to smaller problems that will help answer the main PBL.
Scaffolding students means to help them through unfamiliar environment with tools, strategies, and enable them to higher levels of understand so they can perform at higher levels without the scaffolding. There are four important goals teachers can use: (Ertmer) “1) initiating students’ inquiry; 2) maintaining students’ engagement; 3) aiding learners with concept integration and addressing misconceptions; and 4) promoting reflective thinking.” This scaffolding is continued support throughout the project. By posting notes like “support your claim” will remind students to focus on the expectation not on finishing. With exit notes students can communicate to the teachers their thinking or questions they may have. This helps the facilitator address issues that students are thinking about.
Another great strategy teachers can use to structure their PBL is to conduct whole class debriefings. (Ertmer) Students can hear and reflect how their group work is doing and how the other groups are doing. This will teach students to reflect on the process of their group and move to take on more responsibility in their project. With questions, students will learn to think more about the operation of their group and think more collaboratively. Reflective thinking does not come natural and has to be taught. Time needs to be allotted for reflecting on their group work and on the developing skills. During reflection thinking students are remembering the content, skills and language used in the PBL, which is a great summation of what they learned.
One of the biggest changes in structure that has to be dealt with is the role of the teacher changing to facilitator. Teachers will have to change “how” and “what” they teach in order to make PBL work in their classroom. Changes from teacher to facilitator can be made easier through research, videos and mini PBL. A teachers thinking can be changed through modeling and practice. The success of PBL in a classroom depends on the preparation that a teacher endures. They must focus on supporting students’ learning. Once this mindset is changed it will be easier to facilitate a PBL in our classroom.
Challenge! I challenge you to outline an example of an ill-structured problem suitable for PBL in your blog posting.
An essential question is posted on the board and the students are directed to write a detailed essay and turn it in. No preparations with vocabulary or graphic organizer. The students haven’t any practice on self-directing and see it as free time because no one is directing their focus. The teacher sees the students struggling on the PBL and starts teaching instead of facilitating. The teacher starts telling them how to solve the problem instead of prompting them how to focus on the question for clues that would help them decide what they could do to figure it out steps to a solution.
Alber, R. (2014) 6 scaffolding strategies to use with your students. edutopia. Retrieved from: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/scaffolding-lessons-six-strategies-rebecca-alber on March 4, 2016.
Ertmer, P. A., & Simons, K. D. (2006). Jumping the PBL implementation hurdle: Supporting the efforts of K–12 teachers. Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-based Learning, 1(1), 5. Retrieved from: http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1005&context=ijpbl&sei-redir=1&referer=https%3A%2F%2Fscholar.google.com%2Fscholar%3Fstart%3D10%26q%3Dimplementing%2BPBL%26hl%3Den%26as_sdt%3D0%2C2#search=%22implementing%20PBL%22 on March 9, 2015.
Hmelo-Silver, Cindy E. “Problem-based learning: What and how do students learn?.” Educational psychology review 16.3 (2004): 235-266. Retrieved from: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=13682403&site=ehost-live on March 9, 2015
Jones, R. W. (2006). Problem-based learning: description, advantages, disadvantages, scenarios and facilitation. Anaesthesia and intensive care,34(4), 485. Retrieved from: http://www.biomedsearch.com/article/Problem-based-learning-description-advantages/188739780.html On March 9, 2015.
Moust, J. H., Berkel, H. V., & Schmidt, H. G. (2005). Signs of erosion: Reflections on three decades of problem-based learning at Maastricht University. Higher education, 50(4), 665-683. Retrieved from: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=18458673&site=ehost-live on March 9, 2015
Ravitz, J. Scaffolding project based learning: tools, tactics and technology to facilitate instruction and management. Retrieved from https://www.academia.edu/2828003/Scaffolding_Project_Based_Learning_Tools_Tactics_and_Technology_to_Facilitate_Instruction_and_Management on March 5, 2016.
Solomon, G. (2003). Project-based learning: A primer. TECHNOLOGY AND LEARNING-DAYTON-, 23(6), 20-20. Retrieved from: http://pennstate.swsd.wikispaces.net/file/view/pbl-primer-www_techlearning_com.pdf on March 9, 2015.